Active shooter drills increase across the region - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Active shooter drills increase across the region

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VIENNA -- Mass shootings, whether at schools, businesses, malls, and even churches, appear to be happening more often. 

"It is a need anymore, unfortunately, due to our society," Jim Miller, Chief of Vienna Police, said.

A mass shooting is something no one wants to think can happen to them, but Chief Miller said that is a mindset that needs to change.

"If you look at most mass shootings in the United States, most of them are in rural areas. Not big cities," Miller said.

That's why the Fellowship Baptist Church in Vienna teamed up with local authorities to help keep other congregations safe. 

This is just one of many seminars in recent months across our region. All aiming to prevent another mass shooting.

"The average person who comes to church and sits in a pew, they don't think about that sort of thing. They came to worship the Lord. They just aren't thinking about the awful things that could happen," Dale Russell said.

Russell leads the safety and security committee at Fellowship Baptist and said a shooting at a church in Madison County in 2009 is what caused them to start looking over their shoulders.

"Pastor Fred Winters was shot in the pulpit on Sunday morning. We had a couple of people who attended here then who had gone to that church. It was very impactful to them," Russell said.

Chief Miller said having a security team prepared and ready is important because response time in rural parts of southern Illinois can be upwards of 15 minutes.

"Most police forces in southern Illinois are small, unless you're a big city like Carbondale, Murphysboro, Marion, Harrisburg," he said.

He said building a security team isn't hard; just take a look at who you already have available.

"Look at your church membership. Look at former military, former police officers, EMTs, paramedics. Put all that skill of your congregation to use," Miller said.

Dale hopes with correct security measures in place, a shooting is something that will never happen in Vienna.

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